Preventive dentistry is the best approach to ensuring you have healthy, functional teeth for life. But it isn’t always sufficient. Sometimes, your teeth may experience decay or damage. They may even be lost. But restorative dentistry allows us to repair your teeth and your smile, ensuring that you always have a healthy-looking, functional smile.
Common Causes of Tooth Damage
How do teeth get damaged, and why do they need to be restored? Here are some of the most common causes of tooth damage:
- Tooth decay
- Tooth erosion
- Tooth wear
- Gum disease
All of these causes create specific patterns of damage that can be addressed with certain restorative dentistry procedures.
Restoring Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is caused by oral bacteria. Oral bacteria form biofilms on the surfaces of teeth. They live off the food you eat and secrete damaging acid as waste. This acid eats away the enamel of your teeth, causing what we call a cavity or dental caries. The cavity is a small hole in the tooth that provides shelter for oral bacteria, letting them increase their population, which can speed up decay. As the cavity gets larger, it can trap small particles of food, speeding decay up still further.
Eventually, a cavity will get so deep that it penetrates the inner chamber of the tooth, called the pulp chamber. Bacteria can infect the pulp chamber, killing the tooth nerve, which can be very painful.
Cavities can be treated with white composite fillings when they’re small. As cavities get larger porcelain inlays and onlays may be recommended. For badly damaged teeth, dental crowns provide protection and support. When the interior of the tooth is infected, root canal therapy removes infection and the tooth pulp. After treatment, a dental crown can make sure the tooth is attractive and functional again.
Tooth erosion is caused by acid attack, just like tooth decay. But in erosion, the acid doesn’t come from oral bacteria, it comes from acid that is introduced into the mouth and bathes several or all teeth simultaneously.
There are several causes of tooth erosion, including:
- Consuming acidic foods and beverages
- Digestive problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that cause acid to bubble up into the mouth
- Eating disorders with purgative behaviors
- Chronic dehydration that acidifies the mouth
Because tooth erosion is caused by general exposure of teeth to acid, it damages all the surfaces of the teeth. Fillings are rarely useful for repairing erosion. Most often dental crowns are used to repair tooth erosion.
Tooth wear is when mechanical forces grind the surfaces of your teeth. Most often this comes as the result of teeth grinding. If you eat a particularly hard diet of unprocessed, raw foods, you may cause tooth wear, too. Tooth wear can also be caused by overbrushing of teeth or using highly abrasive toothpastes.
For cosmetic wear on front teeth, porcelain veneers may be a good restoration, if they can be protected. For functional wear on chewing surfaces of back teeth, inlays or onlays may be used, but more often dental crowns are used to address serious tooth wear.
Trauma is when your tooth is subjected to sudden, damaging force. The most common causes of tooth trauma are:
- Sports accidents
- Car accidents
The severity of the trauma dictates the type of restoration used. For minor chips, porcelain veneers are best. For more serious cracked teeth, dental crowns are used, and root canal therapy may be recommended to prevent infection if the tooth pulp has been exposed.
For knocked-out (avulsed) teeth, dentures, dental bridges, or dental implants can be used.
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues around the teeth. The infection can damage gums and bones that surround, protect, and support teeth. Teeth can be at higher risk for decay if they are more exposed. If damage to the gums and bones progresses far enough, a tooth may fall out.
Sometimes, a tooth with root damage can be restored using a filling. More often, teeth exposed and damaged by gum disease may be lost and need to be replaced with dentures, dental bridges, or dental implants.
Carestream Digital ImagingCarestream is a digital imaging technology that we can use to take 3D digital impressions of your teeth. It’s the most accurate 3D scanner on the market today. This makes your restorative dentistry faster and easier.
With Carestream, there’s no need for you to bite down into a tray of goo. We know this can be a challenge if you’re numb. It’s unpleasant and it’s inaccurate. With Carestream, we get highly accurate digital images, and you don’t have to bite down on anything.
These highly accurate images virtually eliminate the risk that you’ll get to our office and learn that the crown you’ve been waiting for doesn’t fit. That would mean new impressions and more waiting–and nobody wants that!
Carestream digital images are sent to the lab instantly. This can reduce the time it takes for your new crown to be ready.
Faster, more accurate, and more pleasant: Carestream improves every stage in your restorative dentistry process.
Does Your Smile Need Restoring?
If your teeth have been damaged and you are looking for quality restorative dentistry in Scripps Ranch, look no further. Please call (858) 271-1010 today for an appointment with restorative dentist Dr. Ramin Goshtasbi at Oasis Dental Arts.